Tag Archive | AISOCC

AISOCC President Kenneth L. Mains Talks Cold Cases

Ken Mains

“You sit and stare at their pictures. You breathe the same rarefied air they took their last breath with. Your reality becomes a fantasy. You try to picture yourself there…seeing it through their eyes. You feel their fright and the hands around your own neck. They are your victims. Taken from this world way to soon, mothers, fathers, brothers and daughters alike. Fate doesn’t care who it takes off of this earth as long as it balances out in the end.”

That is how Detective Kenneth L. Mains describes how he feels when he investigates an unsolved cold case. He continues:

“That is where I have a problem with fate….it never balances out in the end. There is always a void, a deep lasting sickness you feel when you can’t bring the victim back to the loved ones that have lost them. I want to go kick in the door, smack around the bad guy and rescue the victims from their evil capture. I want to carry the victim through the door and bring them, home to their loved ones. That is what I want and what I envision. That however, is not reality.”

When asked what a detective is and does Mains went on to say:

“A detective is different from any other position or job. It requires that you be well versed in many disciplines to include behavioral and forensic sciences, investigations, forensic pathology and knowledge of the legal profession. You as a detective, see human beings at their most vulnerable position ever in life….and that is death. You as a detective, have to meet the parents of these dead humans and tell them you will do everything in your power to solve this case. It is a huge responsibility. You look in their eyes, but peripherally you see the pictures of their dead son or daughter on the walls behind them and it makes you feel for the parents. I don’t care how ‘hard’ you think you are…it will always tug at your heart. These family members have a different look in their eyes. They have a look of desperation. They look at you and they put their entire faith in you. They want you to solve this case. How can you not be motivated by that? So in turn, you work that case until you die! That’s what I do. I do it for the victims who don’t have a voice. I do it for the family and friends of the loved ones because that is what Detectives do. At least I feel that is what good Detectives do. Good Detectives never turn it off. They think about the victims when they are shopping at Lowes or when they are fishing or when they lay down at night to sleep. You are always thinking about who, what, why and how the crime occurred. My mind is always spinning and trying to deduce the possibilities in order to solve the case. Because the bottom line is that is the business we are in. We are in the business of solving cases.”

Detective Kenneth L. Mains is dedicated. He investigates the unsolved. He is a detective. He closes out by saying:

“After I meet the parents of a victim of homicide I want to do nothing more than to solve the case and bring them closure. You feel their pain, their desolation and despair. You can see it in their eyes as they put their entire faith in you. They want you to rid them of this sickening feeling of loss and solve the case. That my friend is called pressure. That my friends is cold case investigations. Welcome to my world.”

Welcome Anita Muldoon

The AISOCC welcomes Anita Muldoon as consulting member. Anita is a  Retired Sergeant. She started her law enforcement career as a police officer later in life, pursuing a long time held interest. As a patrol officer in the St. Paul Police Department,  Anita began to work toward her goal of becoming a homicide investigator by furthering her education. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Law Enforcement at Metro State University and earned her Master’s Degree from Concordia University.

Anita worked in various areas on patrol including Officer Friendly, bike patrol and undercover in the Vice Unit. She took an extended vacation to fulfill another life dream and traveled through many states in Africa. While doing so, she studied for the Sergeant’s exam during the long days of over the road travel. The effort paid off, and she was promoted to Sergeant and assigned to investigations.

The months of general investigations and the years of investigating sex crimes prepared her to reach her dream destination in homicide.  After receiving several calls from family members about old unsolved murders, Anita recognized the need to start a unit that could handle the investigations of these cases outside of a regular caseload.  Anita began to study the advancements in forensic sciences as they pertain to cold cases.

When the department was awarded a Federal DNA grant to review cold cases, Anita jumped in head first and was selected to head up a Cold Case Unit and run the grant. She spent the next three years reading old cases, cataloging information, rummaging through old evidence and submitting it to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for analysis. Several of these submissions yielded positive results. All possible leads were followed, however, departmental budgets were constrained and without other resources, little more could be done. When the grant came to an end, she retired from the police force.

Anita had taken every opportunity to speak publicly about the importance of investigating cold cases. She has created an informative DNA power point presentation to continue her effort to bring public light to the value of these cases, and to restore hope to the families of the victims.

One of the cold cases that Anita worked on was the 1977 murder of Mark Shemukenas. Mark, a pottery maker, was found dead in his own home. From the Twin Cities Pioneer Press: ” On May 11, 1977, a landlord found Shemukenas’ nude body in a kneeling position on his couch in his apartment at 1914 Chelton Ave., his hands tied with electrical wire. He had been castrated and slashed by butcher knives in the neck and abdomen. His mouth had been taped shut, and a two-tined fork was stuck in his chest.

Not giving up on the case, Anita kept an eye out for sex offenders and in 1983, she caught a break. Richard Hubert Ireland was arrested. It looked like the case would finally be solved however, Ireland was acquitted. “Defense attorney Leonardo Castro argued that both pieces of evidence were questionable. The scissors did not have blood on them, he said. One of the many knives found at the scene was clearly the murder weapon. When the scissors were tested for DNA, Ireland’s came up as the “predominant profile,” while most of the DNA samples from other items at the scene had insufficient or “degraded” DNA. Castro said the DNA on all the evidence should have degraded at the same rate.”

Anita was a speaker at the 2013 Annual Conference of Wisconsin Association of Homicide Investigators.

Welcome Anthony Fiore

The AISOCC welcomes Anthony J. Fiore as consulting member. Tony is the Deputy Inspector General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, overseeing operations and investigations with the Office of Inspector General. His experience is drawn from several aspects of law enforcement and investigations. Tony has served ten years with a Pennsylvania municipal police department as patrol officer, as K9-handler, and as detective. He also served eight years with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General as a special agent, where he investigated narcotics trafficking, organized crime, and public corruption.

Tony has been the lead investigator and affiant on many arrests involving violent felons. He is a decorated law enforcement officer and Certified Fraud Examiner who, more recently, has led complex, corruption-based criminal investigations involving the Pennsylvania legislature and Pennsylvania municipal government. Tony is a graduate of the University of Scranton.

Welcome Marianne Hamel

The AISOCC welcomes Dr. Marianne Hamel M.D. as our new consulting member. Dr. Hamel received her master’s and doctoral degrees in molecular biology from Lehigh University and her medical degree from Jefferson Medical College.  She was an anatomic and clinical pathology resident at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and then moved on to a forensic pathology fellowship at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York.You can find some of her publications here.

Dr. Hamel is a medical examiner for Southern Regional Medical Examiner Office in Woodbine, NJ and also owns Jersey Shore Forensics, a private forensic pathology consultation firm.

Dr. Hamel is a recipient of a 2014 research fellowship at the Brocher Foundation of Geneva, Switzerland. Her work concerns autopsy techniques and jurisprudence surrounding homicide during pregnancy. In collaboration with Nikki Johnson, a forensic photographer, she will be showing an exhibition of forensic photomicrography entitled “Death Under Glass” next year at the Mutter Museum.

Dr. Hamel testified as expert witness during the Nicola Furlong murder trial. Nicola died in Tokyo, Japan, in May 2012. On 19 March 2013, U.S. musician Richard Hinds was sentenced to between five and ten years in prison for Nicola’s murder.

Last Saturday, Nicola’s sister Andrea (19) collected Nicola’s degree in International Business and Languages from Dublin City University during a graduation ceremony.

Making a difference

Justice Symbol Making a difference is exactly what the American Investigative Society of Cold Cases does. The professional review of the unsolved will open possibilities previously not considered in some very old cases. For example, technology has changed. We no longer need a vial of blood for DNA testing. An inner cheek swap suffices. Another example is the extended collaboration between agencies to help find the missing. And, we now have insight in certain thinking patterns that will aid law enforcement to make sense of a crime scene where logic at first could not.

Most importantly, the AISOCC will make a difference for the victims of unsolved homicides. We are dedicated to find justice no matter how well she hides herself. Finding justice comes in different shapes and forms. It is never about closing a file. It is about finding answers to explain the crime scene and what happened to the victim. It is about answers for the victim’s family members to explain why this happened.

The work of the AISOCC will be a very long term project. Justice is not found in 45 minutes. That only happens on TV. Justice often hides herself so well that it will take us years to find a trace of her. But we will. We have a perseverance that matches justice’s cunning.

I am grateful to be part of this journey and I hope that you will follow along by reading this blog. Every post can be read here and on the AISOCC’s website. You can also follow us on Twitter.

If you have any questions or suggestions for blog posts, please leave them in the comment box below.

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